ICER: Humira Leads Drug Price Increases

ICER’s review indicates that Humira’s price increases are not supported by new clinical evidence.

AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab) had the most unjustified price increases of any prescription medication from 2017 through 2020, a new report says.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER)’s Unsupported Price Increase Report found that Humira’s net price soared an estimated 29.6% from 2017 through 2020, leading to nearly $1.4 million in drug spending.

AbbVie also hiked Humira’s price 9.6% from 2019 to 2020.

Humira is the only treatment the organization identified as having “significant unsupported price increases” across all three of ICER’s UPI (Unsupported Price Increases) reports.

“The most extreme of these [price increases] is Humira, with an ever-escalating US price that contrasts starkly to its falling price in every country where Humira currently faces biosimilar competition,” David Rind, M.D., chief medical officer for ICER, said in a news release.

In addition, seven of the 10 drugs that had substantial effects on U.S. spending “lacked adequate new evidence to demonstrate a substantial clinical benefit that was not yet previously known,” ICER said in a news release.

Those medications cost the U.S. health system an additional $1.67 billion beyond what would have been spent if their net prices had remained flat, ICER found.

The seven drugs include Novartis’ Promacta (eltromobopag), Biogen’s Tysabri (natalizumab), Bausch Health’s Xifaxan (rifaximin), Supernus Pharmaceuticals’ Trokendi XR (topiramate), AbbVie’s Lupron Depot (leuproelin), and Horizon Pharmaceuticals’ Krystexxa (pegloticase).

“While prescription drugs continue to arrive in the United States with increasingly high launch prices — often not aligned with those therapies’ ability to improve patients’ lives — year-over-year price increases have slowed considerably since ICER began issuing these UPI reports,” Rind said. “However, there remain many high-cost brand drugs that continue to experience annual price hikes, even after accounting for their rebates.”

Several of the treatments have been on the market for many years, with “scant evidence that they are any more effective than we understood them to be years ago when they cost far less,” Rind said. “If new data emerge that show a treatment may be more beneficial than what was previously understood, perhaps some level of price increase is warranted. For seven of the 10 high-cost drugs we profiled in this year’s report, though, we found that the price increases lacked such justification.”

However, three of the 10 drugs did have important positive clinical evidence. Those include AbbVie’s Venclexta (venetoclax), UCB’s Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), and Novartis’ Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan).

Still, the evidence used to justify Entresto’s price increase was the same evidence used to justify its prior year’s price increase, ICER said.

Even though ICERhas determined that new evidence exists for the three treatments, the results should not be interpreted to mean that the new evidence justifies the level of price increase. “A full cost-effectiveness assessment was not conducted,” the organization noted.